Housing appears to be a recurring theme on this blog – and rightly so, it is one of the greatest challenges we face. There is no denying the nation has a real crisis on its hands supplying the affordable housing we desperately need. There is no point in sugar coating what the housing crisis means for Slough – ever increasing house prices and rents rising quicker than wages. It’s no wonder our residents are feeling locked out & let down.

The Council has taken steps to address the problem. We have seen the supply of 449 affordable homes over the last 5 years, with 190 homes developed last year alone, and we have a further 69 planned this year. These included the first council homes built in a generation. We have already committed to building at least 190 more new council homes in the next few years. We are also trying to cool the local housing market, our housing companies have the ambitious targets of lowering rents, increasing security of tenure and raising standards.

Which brings us to the topic I want to introduce to you today. Two new forms of rent; The Slough Rent and The Slough Living Rent. This new approach opens up affordable housing opportunities to more local people. By encouraging the development of multiple tenures of housing we can ensure the housing market in Slough starts to work for everybody.

The Slough Rent will be set at traditional council rents. At least 25% of our new build council housing along with our existing stock will be set at this level. The Slough Living Rent will be linked to average local household income levels.

The Slough Living Rent will lower rents on larger family properties. I know from speaking to residents that people are struggling with the cost of living, insecurity at work, rising prices, stagnating wages and worry about their children’s future. This will provide some help to those families right across Slough who worry, as I do, if their children will get access to the same opportunities our generation has benefited from.

It will offer greater housing opportunities to the 32% of households in Slough who have a household income between £20 -40,000. These low to middle income households are currently excluded from accessing social housing due to their income and are locked out of the market for exactly the same reason.

The approach will be developed in the coming months, not just through reshaping our housing policies, but also our planning policies. These rents won’t just apply to council new build, but to developments built by private developers and housing associations. We are very much following in the footsteps of the Mayor of London and Manchester council in looking at requiring developers to value development according to a non-negotiable percentage of affordable housing being supplied.

I often talk about the need to ensure local people are not left behind by the changes happening to our town, to ensure local residents feel a positive impact on their lives when these changes come; to know that in growing our town they still have a place secured for them and their children. This new thinking does that. In means developers will have to supply a set percentage of genuinely affordable housing, which will be available to local people, those on our waiting list and those who contribute to our towns priorities.

If we are serious about tackling social inequality and mobility then we must start with housing. We must be bold in our ambition to ensure everyone in our town feels they have a stake in Slough’s future.

Thanks for reading and get in touch,